Episode three of 11.22.63, Other Voices, Other Rooms, begins immediately following the previous episode, on November 1, 1960. As Bill (George MacKay), the “kid” who witnessed Jake (James Franco) murder Frank Dunning (Josh Duhamel) threatens to take Jake to the police, Jake tries to convince him that he’s from the future. When he explains his mission, Bill asks why he doesn’t just “take out” Lee Harvey Oswald now.
This provides the show a good opportunity to recap the plot, particularly since episode two detoured from the basics. However, when Bill agrees to drive Jake to Dallas for $100, he in essence becomes his accomplice, agreeing to stay with him and help him plan for what’s coming. It’s been a while since I read the book, but I don’t think Jake had a sidekick and I’m not sure how I feel about it. In this episode, he’s more a hindrance than he is a help.
For this episode at least, the plan involves monitoring Oswald’s (Daniel Webber) meetings with George de Mohrenschildt (Jonny Coyne) to learn if there is a conspiracy to kill the future President. However, since Oswald doesn’t return from Russia until 1962, Jake gets a job as a substitute teacher in Jodie, Texas, partway between Dallas and Ft. Worth and the show experiences a time jump.
In a show about time travel and history “pushing back” against any change to the timeline, you have to accept a bit of coincidence. 11.22.63 expects us to swallow a lot, though. Guess who the new librarian is at Jake’s school? Yep, Sadie Dunhill (Sarah Gadon), the woman he encountered two years ago in Dealey Plaza. And, harder to believe, the owner of the strip club where Jakes takes Bill to celebrate his birthday is Jack Ruby (Antoni Corone).
Although Other Voices, Other Rooms is more focused on the big picture than the last, it may be my least favorite episode so far. Besides the aforementioned coincidences, there’s a silly close call while Jake and Bill are bugging Oswald’s apartment that doesn’t logistically make sense. The writers have their excuse, though… the “past pushing back” is apparently going to be used to explain every unrealistic plot twist.
On the other hand, I like a subplot about Miss Mimi, the black secretary at Jake’s school. It’s a cruel reminder of race relations in the early 60’s, but Jake treats her kindly and as an equal. I have a feeling that will play an important part in the story later, whether it simply gives him another ally, or creates further obstacles from organizations like The Sisters of Southern Heritage, whose rally Jake attends at the end of the episode.
No matter how 11.22.63 tries to simplify its history, you have to know a little about the politics of the era. I think I have it figured out. General Edwin Walker (Gregory North) is a speaker at the rally, standing in front of a huge Confederate flag. Afterwards, Oswald is infuriated with him, calls him a Fascist, and threatens to kill him. Jake’s plan is to watch an attempt that Oswald will make on Walker’s life to determine if he acted alone or within a larger plot.
Meanwhile, Jake and Sadie are falling in love. This development is somewhat predictable, but will surely provide a solid dilemma for Jake in future episodes, particularly since he was warned in the future not to develop relationships with anyone in the past. I really like Gadon in the role, which adds potential emotional depth. So far, 11.22.63 is building, but has failed to completely “wow” me. This episode takes a giant leap forward with the story, so I’m hopeful for those that remain.